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12 August 2011

Speak to us of washers and dryers. [More:]LT and I are scoping out apartments. We're seeing one today that me might want to take. It has pretty much everything we're looking for - except for washer and dryer. It does have hookups, but if we want them we'll have to buy our own.

Does anyone have advice about this? I was surprised to see how much washers and dryers cost. Of course they pay for themselves in the long run, but I'd like to minimize the expense just now. Are there other ways to find a reasonably priced one, besides walking into Sears and settling for the lowest priced model? If we get a used one, what should we look out for?
Anecdotal advice: don't bother with cheap or used. Get something mid-range. We looked into getting our cheap one fixed after it crapped out (after 5 years) and a repair would have cost as much, maybe more, than the original price.
posted by JoanArkham 12 August | 08:12
Wow, but I would say 5 years is good for a cheap one. No?
posted by Miko 12 August | 08:15
Our Maytag lasted over 10 years.
posted by Obscure Reference 12 August | 08:22
We have a Kenmore (Sears) washer and dryer that have lasted us 20+ years, with only one or two minor repairs along the way. These were modest-level appliances, not the cheapest, but the next step above cheapest.
posted by BoringPostcards 12 August | 08:26
As I remember, the Maytag died because it wore out from too much suds (which we were told puts a strain on a washer.)
posted by Obscure Reference 12 August | 08:33
We bought our washer and dryer at the local Sears Scratch and Dent outlet which saved a lot of money. Refrigerator too.
posted by octothorpe 12 August | 08:37
One thing to look out for is the size of the door to the room where they're kept. I know in my place, the door was too small to fit full size (only those space saver models, which pretty much suck).

But I've been super happy with my Whirlpool Duet set.
posted by sperose 12 August | 09:09
How timely. I'm moving into a new apartment and it has hookups, but no w/d. The town I'm in has one laundromat, with washloads costing 4.50 each. Before drying. Friends (not in this town) are shocked that there's no w/d included and that I'm willing to buy. So worth it to me to have my own. In my last place, we had a used set but because we'd gotten them cheap we were never sure if things that went wrong (there were several) were our fault, or just because they were old, or if they were worth it to fix...

In conclusion, I have no useful advice for you, really. Other than commiserating.
posted by knile 12 August | 09:17
I'm jealous of anyone and everyone with a washer/dryer in their house. As knile said, it is SO worth it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 August | 09:20
+1 on the scratch and dent idea! Excellent.
posted by Miko 12 August | 09:20
Yes, in my life I've been on a gradual upgrade from no w/d, to one in the basement, to one right in the kitchen of our last house. Spoiled forever now. There are very few things that make that big a difference to quality of life. Laundry is one my least liked chores anyway - and when you have to haul it around to basements or - heaven forfend - laundromats, it becomes detestable.
posted by Miko 12 August | 09:23
We still have to drag our laundry down to our dungeon of a basement which is fun for me since the joists down there are about three inches shorter than I am so I have to do the laundry hunchbacked. We have a closet in a bedroom on the second floor scoped out for a stacked washer/dryer combo but we aren't there yet.
posted by octothorpe 12 August | 09:30
I know you can get illegal cable hookups. Wonder if you can get illegal W/D hookups, and who you have to pay how much...
posted by Eideteker 12 August | 09:36
I'm sure you are, Eideteker- a girl I work with who lives in this neighborhood said loads of people do it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 August | 09:37
We went low-mid range when we bought pretty basic washer/dryer Frigidaire models from Best Buy six years ago. They have no special bells and whistles, but have been absolute workhorses. I think total we dropped about $600 for the pair, and they have been great. When we move out of our house (tomorrow! holy shit!) we are leaving them for the renters. I suspect they will still be working when we get back. My only complaint is that the washing machine is rather noisy, other than that, they work perfectly.
posted by msali 12 August | 09:58
We have a couple used Maytags, and have had them for over 25 years. I have repaired each of them a few times, but they are still going.
posted by danf 12 August | 10:04
I want to tag along on this question!
We also have a hookup but no unit, and I think we need to get one of those combo units that doesn't need a gas vent.
posted by rmless2 12 August | 10:29
I bought a new washer-dryer about a year and a half ago after my old washer, which wasn't all that old, started to rust. It hadn't been that great anyway, the LCD display kept going wrong which stopped it from running. I called out the repair guy three times, and he said that washing machines which have LCD displays are unreliable.

If you've ever looked inside a washing machine you'll be surprised to find a piece of concrete (mine was a breeze block - cinder block to USians). This is to stabilise the machine during the spin cycle to stop it from moving across the floor. But machines which have sophisticated LCD displays don't like all this shaking about and vibration from the block, and so they tend to suffer from electrical problems far more than non-LCD models.

So, fancy-schmancy computerised displays are not always the best thing to have. I went for the next model down in the range, which has dials and on-off lights, and so far it's been fine.
posted by Senyar 12 August | 11:06
rmless, I have a combined unit and it's great, although a wash/dry load seems to take forever. It's all electric, and has a condenser dryer, so it doesn't need a vent. I'm lucky enough to have a back yard so I always try to dry outside on the line, and in bad weather I'll hang stuff up to dry indoors rather than use the dryer. But towels fresh from the dryer are soooo fluffy.
posted by Senyar 12 August | 11:09
We have a set of Kenmores that are still going strong after almost 30 years. Honest.
As for repairs...
Had to replace the heating coil in the dryer once. Cheap. Easy.
Had to replace the load-size-selection switch on the washer. Very cheap. Very easy.
posted by Thorzdad 12 August | 11:22
Miko, I'd buy new and energy efficient . . . I am actually hoping now for our ancient dryer to die because our new washer (bought last year) is such a huge improvement and saves so much on detergent/energy each month. And sometimes depending on where you live you can get tax credits for buying energy efficient. But shop online pretty aggressively before buying. Look hard at the consumer reviews as well. I'd strongly recommend waiting until September if at all possible as that is when most sales occur.

We have bought all our appliances this way, after online research and on sale, and I have to say it has made our lives a lot easier and cut our bills.
posted by bearwife 12 August | 12:29
This thread is so useful! Thanks, Senyar; now I know to get a condenser one and one without LEDs. And thanks to Bearwife, I'll look at energy star ones in Sept.
posted by rmless2 12 August | 12:38
My problem is not "what's the best thing to buy;" I'm sure a new energy efficient model is definitely best. It's "how can I get a washer and dryer that functions well enough with basically no money." It's hard for me to imagine saving enough on energy to make a difference. Electricity is probably the cheapest bill we have.
posted by Miko 12 August | 13:17
(Like, if we save $5 a month, it will take 10 years for the energy savings to pay for the washer. We won't be there 10 years).
posted by Miko 12 August | 13:18
Just buy some used ones on Craiglist! People are always unloading them cheaply b/c of moving and stuff. That's how I got mine.
posted by leesh 12 August | 13:33
Yeah, I think that's the way to go. I'm just not at a high-end appliance-buying stage in life. If I were planning to live here forever and keep them for my very own, I might, but in reality I will not live in this place more than a few years and would rather get cheap ones and leave them behind for the next tenant. Craigslist is a good idea too - try to grab something someone wants to get rid of after they upgrade.
posted by Miko 12 August | 13:53
If you have access to a big box home improvement store check for returned ones. They are often a good deal and sometimes you can bargain the price down even more. (Be prepared to go in on non-weekend and to return if needed to find a more responsive salesperson )
posted by mightshould 12 August | 14:09
I adore Craigslist and the way it's made finding or getting rid of anything so easy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 12 August | 14:12
posted by Eideteker 12 August | 14:27
May I strongly suggest one very important thing. If you do get a washing machine for an apartment:

Leave the water turned off at ALL TIMES unless actually doing a wash. Turned off at the wall connection. Take it from one who knows. If you leave the water on at the wall tap, the hose that runs to the machine will fail. You will get a flooded apartment, as well as flooding apartments below you. For some reasons landlords frown upon this.
posted by Splunge 12 August | 15:24
Splunge, you can get FloodChek hoses that are supposed to prevent that.
posted by sperose 12 August | 15:53
Miko, I wouldn't buy high end, I'd buy ON SALE, energy efficient, and well reviewed. And I recommend internet research to get the very best sale prices. FYI, one of our best appliance buys was the new refrigerator we got last year from Home Depot . . . it was new and well reviewed, but not high end and very deeply discounted because it was their floor model. We got a similar deal for our dishwasher and our washer. (And you can knock more $ off if you can truthfully tell a retailer the competition is selling the same thing for a lower price.)

On our washer, we've saved on laundry soap, electricity, and water, and we paid very little more than we would have for a Craigs List or dented model.
posted by bearwife 12 August | 17:31
If you're looking for cheap, perhaps forgo the dryer, or get a cheap craigslist one and don't use it much? Laundry is my least-favorite chore, but there's a better option than clotheslines (if you don't live in humid places where nothing ever dries - in that case, i have no idea). My friends have conduit hanging from strings, like this: |___|
Then you hang the clothes on clothes hangers and if you're like me, they go straight to the closet to be hung (did I mention I don't like laundry? I don't fold my anything. Everything hangs except small things, which get stuffed into their appropriate drawers.)
posted by aniola 13 August | 21:59
Though I'll admit that I do pair socks & maybe that counts as folding.
posted by aniola 13 August | 22:01
A washer saves a huge amount in laundromat costs, so Yay, and it will pay for itself. A dryer is nice but not actually critical - you can use a drying rack. Front-loading washers save a lot of energy and water. I'd check freecycle and craigslist, then check sales at Sears. Appliance salespeople at Sears can negotiate the price.
posted by theora55 14 August | 14:50
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